Nineteen West Virginia families have filed lawsuits against the drug maker Pfizer, claiming their children suffered birth defects after their mothers took the anti-depressant Zoloft. The lawsuits were filed in Wayne Circuit Court and name Pfizer Inc.; Roerig, a division of Pfizer; and Greenstone LLC.
The mothers involved in the separate lawsuits allege they took Zoloft, as prescribed, while pregnant and their children were born with ailments including atrial septal defect; multiple holes in the heart; persistent pulmonary hypertension; neural tube defects; and craniofacial defects.
The lawsuits claim that Pfizer knew or should have known that Zoloft could cause such serious birth defects. The mothers allege that Zoloft is defective, dangerous to humans, unfit and unsuitable to be marketed and sold, and lacks proper risk warnings.
In an unrelated New Jersey lawsuit that made similar claims, Pfizer responded by denying negligence or breach of contract and refusing to provide evidence that it warned pregnant women of the risks of using Zoloft. That lawsuit was moved to federal court and is still being litigated.
The number of lawsuits against Pfizer over alleged Zoloft birth defects have grown so much that a multidistrict litigation was created in April 2012 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which will streamline pretrial procedures to lead to earlier resolutions.